More of. Less of.

On this early morning (4:51 am) of September 11, I woke up with this on my mind.

Tony Jeary first introduced me to an idea, a concept that changes lives. This idea helps people become better. Goals become focused. Behaviors take on new meaning. This is not only practical – it is doable.

More of. Less of.

Think about a goal you have:

  • Monthly sales goal
  • Weight loss
  • Self-development
  • Relationships

Now that you’ve got that one goal in mind, ask yourself, “What can I do more of to move me closer to my goal?” Then ask, “What do I need to do less of that is hindering me from achieving my goal?”  Now go do it!

It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? We already know what we need to do more of to hit sales goals (more calls, more follow-ups/follow-throughs). We already know what we need more of to become healthier (drink more water, exercise, eat more veggies). And you can list what you need to do less of to develop yourself into becoming the better version of where you are today (i.e. less TV?). And you have a lot of experience already to know what you need more of and less of to make your relationships thrive.

Let’s broaden this thought out. My country…our world…needs more of something, and it all needs less of something.

  • Prosperity?
  • Equity?
  • Justice?
  • Violence?
  • Chaos?

What I woke up to was this: more love. This is not new. This is not radical. This is and has been the answer forever. And we all know how to do more love.

  • Smile – let your spirit brighten someone else’s day.
  • Laugh – it’s healing.
  • Care – do something for your elderly neighbor. Buy someone’s meal at a restaurant (without them knowing it was you). Volunteer.

What do you think would happen in our world if everyone did one random act of kindness today? Just one. More love. That’s what would happen.

So, why don’t we? Perhaps we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we become blind to others. Maybe we are so inwardly focused on our own fears, worries, anxieties that we cannot see how others struggle. Perhaps we need less focus on ourselves and more attention on those around us.

Today I challenge myself – and you – to do more of something that moves you towards love in your part of the world.

  • Smile more.
  • Tell someone you appreciate them. Literally, tell them and be specific.
  • Be helpful.
  • Compliment more.
  • Find the good in someone else.
  • Say “thank you” often.
  • Email/Call someone you have not been in contact with. Tell them you have been thinking about them.
  • Do a random act of kindness.

In my country, today is a somber day. We remember a day filled with hate, destruction, and murder. But we also remember more about our heroes who gave their lives so others lived. We remember a city that rebuilt itself as our nation rebuilt its hope. We remember buildings filled with people who loved others, helped others, and inspired others in the face of unspeakable horror. We remember.

And today, we do more. We love…more. And one by one, person by person, this love changes our nation and our world.

 

Tuesday Tip – Who else would benefit from knowing this?

Many of you read articles, blog posts, books or listen to a TED talk and you are inspired. You learn something new. You actually make changes in your professional/personal life as a result. Does it all end there…with you?

My tip for today is take this one step further. Why else would benefit from knowing or getting exposed to this information?

  • Your team?
  • Your colleagues?
  • Another leader in your community?
  • Your family?
  • Your mentor or mentee?

Of course learning and developing as a leader is critically important. Take it one more step and share what you have learned with someone else. Email them a link to that blog post. Send them a podcast link. Take a photo of a powerful paragraph and email that to them. Share what you’ve learned over coffee or lunch.

Some folks will be receptive to this. Others will not. You’ll learn who is open to this. Focus on adding value. This sharing – it is about them, not about you. You could help someone launch something incredible in their life!

Tuesday Tip: Personalize Your Note-Taking

Are you a note-taker? If not, I encourage you to develop the habit of taking notes. “You mean in meetings?” That’s one place. But there’s more times to take notes:

  • Meetings
  • Reading a book
  • Preparation for a meeting
  • Sermon
  • Video content you’re listening to
  • Podcast you’re listening to
  • When an idea hits you and you don’t want to forget it
  • Lectures
  • Reading a blog
  • Reading a magazine

You get the idea. Where do you record your notes? That’s up to you. Carry a small notebook to capture ideas. Use a journal. Use your smart phone/tablet/laptop. Use talk-to-text to capture in-the-moment ideas. Just capture your thoughts.

But here’s the tip that makes the most difference for me. I personalize my note-taking.

When I read a book, I’m a highlighter. When I read, I have a highlighter and a pen with me. I highlight a passage I want to remember. I often write a note in the margin that helps me connect dots (from this thought to a future action).

And once I complete reading the book, I often go back and write in my journal what I learned from that book. So, how do I personalize the notes? I put them in first person even if the author did not write that thought in that way. Here’s an example:

James Clear is the author of Atomic Habits (I highly recommend reading this book and then following him in social media). In the chapter, “How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa)”, he writes about “new identities” in light of moving away from the person (habits and all) to the person we want to be.

He asks this question: Who is the type of person that could get the outcome you want? In my journal, this would be written: Who is the type of person that could get the outcome I want? Other examples:

I become my habits.

The most effective way to change my habits is to focus not on what I want to achieve, but on who I wish to become.

When I make a specific plan for when and where I will perform a new habit, I am more likely to follow through.

I do this because I want to internalize what I’m learning. Making it personal moves new information and ideas to my heart and to my mind and making the likelihood of me following through much more successful. I create a conversation, of sorts, between me and the author as though she/he is talking to me. I pay attention to the content more. I put more of what I am learning into action.

Next time you take notes – especially when you need to take action on those notes – personalize them. It’s one way you can coach yourself to become better.

You are a Marvel

Pablo Casals, the famous cellist, composer, conductor, once said (modified a bit):  

“Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all of the world there is no other person exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another person like you… You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. You must cherish one another. You must work—we must all work—to make this world worthy of each of us.”

Do you approach your day with this mindset? What would change if you did?

I’m inspired. Oh, how our world would change for the better if we all worked “to make the world worthy of each of us.”

You are a marvel.

Change the Way You See Situations

As I stated in my last post, I have been reading Change the Way You See Everything.  In fact, I just finished it during my lunch break today.  This is probably the fourth time reading through this incredible book.

In the closing pages I read today, authors Cramer & Wasiak challenged me to change the way I see situations.  What is the current situation right now on April 27, 2020?  The ongoing quarantine due to the corona virus.  The economy of the world is crippled.  Millions in the US are unemployed – and this happened in a mere matter of weeks.  Small businesses are closing never to reopen.  There is a lot of depression, fear, and despair.

If we’re honest, most of us focus on that last paragraph.  The 24/7 news channels feed viewers a never-ending diet of gloom and doom.  It seems as if everything is focused on what has gone wrong.

But what if we could see this differently?  

Think back to September 11, 2001.  When that day happened, I’m sure many thought New York would be forever devastated.  But Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided this vision:

“Tomorrow New York is going to be here…and we’re going to rebuild, and we’re going to be stronger than we were before…I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, that terrorism can’t stop us.”

And New York did rebuild.  One year ago, I stood at the World Trade Center Memorial.  I walked the streets of the city.  It has rebuilt.  Our nation became stronger and more vigilant.

How did that all happen?  How will we climb out of the hole we were thrown into these past few months?  Can we?  Yes, we can!

foucsCramer & Wasiak challenge us to apply the 80-20 rule…in reverse.  “Instead of focusing 80% of your attention on problems and 20% on opportunities, concentrate 80% on opportunities and 20% correcting what’s wrong.”

 

So what are your opportunities?

  • Devoting time to invest in your personal growth and development.
  • Investing time to discover a better/more efficient way to get work done (hey, you already changed where you work – focus on how you work!)
  • Ask, “How are my customers interacting with me now?  What is working with this?  What small tweaks can I make that would make it even easier for my customers to do business with me?”
  • Ask, “How can I become more financially fit during this situation so I can better be prepared for the future?  Who can I turn to for help with this?”  (locally, here).
  • Ask: “Who can I help right now?  Who needs encouragement, support, or a friend?”

“…what if you could reach into the depth of that problem and extract a treasure – a wealth of information that could propel the situation forward in a way that benefits everyone involved, exponentially!”

Cramer & Wasiak offer solid advice:

  • Get a new vision of your world today.
  • “Turn yourself on by sharpening your vision” of what could be.
  • “Link your passion, vision, and skill set with the strengths and capabilities of those you have attracted into your circle of influence.”  
  • Change how you think about problems and set-backs.

This is not an impossible situation we are all in.  But those that will rise to the next level and challenge will be those who focus on the 80% of the opportunities this time is presenting to us.

“How can this be the best problem we’ve ever had?”

Building Your Company’s Culture in the Moment

Scenario: You witness a situation at work and it is clearly evident that this will lead to a culture-killer for your company.  What do you do?

Most people do one of 3 things:

1. DO NOTHING.  Look the other way.  Ignore what you’re seeing, hearing, and feeling.

2. JOIN IN.  This is the mob mentality.  “A riot is an ugly thing…I think it’s high time we have one!” (Young Frankenstein). This only fuels the fires of negativity.

3. PROMOTE, PRACTICE, and PROTECT the culture.

in the moment

Easy. It’s just as easy to not act as it is to act.  Just like losing weight or exercising or reading or being intentional in a relationship….it’s easy to do something and it’s not easy to do something

 

Fear.  We fear taking a stand.  We fear retribution from our peers (“who does he think he is?!”)

Deflection. “It’s not my job.  I’m not a manager, VP, CEO…”

Since when is protecting our culture the sole responsibility of a supervisor?

hey

 

Self-worth“Who am I to say something/take a stand?”

Too many times, we don’t take a stand because of what we say to ourselves.

  • “I’m just a line worker/entry-level accountant/etc.  I have no authority.”
  • “People will make fun or treat me differently.  I don’t want to risk that.”
  • “I’ve only been with the company for 6 months.  I don’t know enough to speak up.”
  • “I’m an idiot.  I should shut up.”

Please realize that there are people who applied for your position and did not get it.    YOU are in!  YOU made it.  YOU are worthy!  Your company believes in YOU.

But in order for your company’s culture to grow and be cultivated, each team member has to make the right decision at those critical moments.

  • And every time you and I stand up to PROMOTE, PRACTICE, AND PROTECT our culture, we build momentum.
  • And when momentum builds, it becomes the norm.
  • We raise our standards.
  • We don’t settle.
  • We refuse to live to the lowest common denominator.
  • The culture becomes alive.
  • WE become the culture.

 

protect your culture

Outdo One Another…

valentine day

Today is Valentine’s Day.  Here in the US, that means there will be lots of flowers and chocolates and cards given.  Restaurants will be packed with lovers.

 

All this brought to mind a verse from the Bible.  It is in Romans 12:10:

“Love one another in brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Now, you may not be a person a faith.  That’s ok.  Stay with me here.

I often tell people who ask that I like my job and love the people I work with.  It’s true.  I’m not perfect in this, but most days and in most moments, it’s true.  It’s what drives me to serve them, to push them to be their best, to cheer them on.

But I want to focus on the second part of this verse – “Outdo one another in showing honor.”

What would happen to your company culture if the majority of the team did exactly this?  I know many of us seem to be in competitions with each other within our companies.  People strive to be the top dog in sales.  Project leaders are looking to excel more than the last project manager.

But what if we all started striving to “outdo one another in showing honor.”  How would conversations sound differently?  How would meetings be run?  How would conversations about someone who is not present sound (would those conversations stop?)?  How would even casual interactions change for the better? How would your company’s culture change?

So, on this Valentine’s Day, I challenge you and me to work to outdo one another in showing honor.  I think this could have a positive, systemic effect in your workplace.  It can become a place where we honor, respect, and appreciate each other.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

TRANSFORMATION in 2020 by Jim Johnson

We are fast approaching 2020.  Many of us are looking ahead and formulating new goals and direction.  Resolutions will be made.  Later they will be broken.

What causes us to do this year after year? And when so many of us fail to follow through?

  • Lack of discipline?
  • Incorrect goals?
  • This is more than wishful thinking?

Why do we even set goals for ourselves?

  • To feel better about ourselves?
  • To make others value us more?
  • Societal pressure?
  • Advertising pressure?

Let’s look at health goals.  Millions of people right now are thinking about their health goals for 2020.  Losing weight.  Eating healthy foods.  Exercise. Reduce medication.  Those are all great and noble goals.

But for millions, these goals will be a fading thought very early in the year.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is said to be about 80 percent, and most lose their resolve by mid-February.

People will lose the desire to do what it takes to meet their goals.  A warm cinnamon roll on a frigid February morning will win the day, and the slippery slope from that fresh baked goodness will loom large.  Within days, health goals can be obliterated.  “Oh, well, next year.”

Look back on your life 1 year ago.  Reflect on this:

  • How am I healthier today?
  • How have I grown as a person, parent, spouse, leader in the past year?
  • How has my spiritual life developed?
  • How has my financial wellness improved?

“Well, ummm, I guess I’m really the same as I was back then.  Actually, I’ve been this way for years.”

See, becoming better is not simply a matter of desire.  Who doesn’t want to become healthier?  More in tune spiritually?  A better mom/dad/person?  More secure financially?

We all do.

So what’s missing when we set goals and resolutions yet fail to follow-through so quickly?

What we need is TRANSFORMATION.

Transformation definition

Let’s break this definition down:

  • Profound – very great or intense.
  • Radical – very different from the usual, sometimes to the extreme
  • Change – not the same as before
  • New direction – turn around and head on a different path
  • More effective – results, better results, life-changing results

 

Allow me some liberty here.  When I think of TRANSFORMATION, I think of the word repentance.  When someone repents, there are 2 actions required:

  1. Turning away from something.
  2. Turning to something/someone.

To truly change your life (health, relationships, development, finances, etc.), this sense of repentance needs to be applied.

Health:  I am turning from foods that harm me.  I am turning to foods that heal.

Relationships:  I am turning from behaviors that harm others.  I am turning to behaviors that build bridges and create peace.

Finances:  I am turning from undisciplined spending.  I am turning to creating a plan to move me towards freedom.

Personal Development:  I am turning from haphazardly moving through life.  I am turning to intentional ways to grow.

Do you see the difference?

Let’s explore how TRANSFORMATION can happen in your life.  Today, it is December 21, 2019.  Think ahead to December 21, 2020.

  • How will you feel if you truly TRANSFORMED your life?
  • What kind of results would you realize?
  • How will your health, spiritual life, relationships, finances, etc. all become better as a result of TRANSFORMATION?
  • See yourself having improved these key areas of life. Visualize you being in a “profound, radically” different place.  Do you like what you see?  Doesn’t this excite you?

Fact: you can TRANSFORM your life.  You can!  In the posts to come, let’s learn and discover how TRANSFORMATION can become possible in our lives.  I need it!  I bet you do, too.

In the posts that follow, let’s learn together how we can TRANSFORM our lives.  We’ll explore the TRANSFORMATION definition, creating habits, the power of documenting your progress in a journal, accountability, the idea that TRANSFORMATION is not a one-and-done proposition…and so much more.  I’ll great resources that I’ve read/listened to  from great people.

Do you want to remain the same person you’ve been for years (decades)?  I don’t.  True change requires TRANSFORMATION.

Join me in the journey!  Let’s become better.

metamorphosis

20 Ways to Become Better as a Leader by Jim Johnson

Become better square

  1. Set meaningful personal goals and work on them every day.
  2. Practice gratitude every day.
  3. Do random acts of kindness.
  4. Read inspiring, challenging books every day.
  5. Listen to inspiring podcasts.
  6. Follow impactful leadership blogs.
  7. Find and meet with a mentor.
  8. Mentor someone.
  9. Network with other leaders.
  10. Volunteer your time in your community.
  11. Do more than expected at work.
  12. Intentionally meet new leaders in your community.
  13. Write someone a personal note of appreciation.
  14. Say “please” and “thank you”.
  15. Open the door for others.
  16. Smile more.
  17. Listen more than you speak.
  18. Spend time with family and friends.
  19. Laugh – don’t take yourself too seriously.
  20. Develop positive self-talk.

Seek Clarity

In his new book, High Performance Habits, Brendon Burchard speaks about seeking clarity in Habit 1.  I shared this exercise with my Emerging Leader group yesterday.  I thought you might like to read this as well:

  1.  Describe (write it down) how you’ve perceived yourself in the following situations over the past several months – with your significant other, at work, with the kids or your team, in social situations with strangers.
  2. Now ask, “Is that who I really see myself being in the future?”  How would my future self look, feel, and behave differently in those situations? (note: think about how your future self would want to interact in ways that you would be proud of)
  3. If you could describe yourself in just 3 aspirational words – words that would sum up who you are at your best in the future – what would those words be?  Why are those words meaningful to you?  Once you find your words, put them in your phone as an alarm label that goes off several times per day.

I worked through this exercise myself.  I jotted down several things and finally landed on my 3 aspirational words.  I created a calendar event that displays these 3 words at 5:45 am, 1:00 pm and 9:00 pm every day.

Already, there are many times when I see those words and I am reminded to be my best and do my best to act out on these words.  It works.  What a great reminder.

Try it. In fact, order the book and start working your own high performance habits (link to the book is provided above). Begin working on becoming better.  You will not regret it.

high performance habit quote